And everyone knows, if mom isn't happy... no one is happy.
Most of us have heard how taking DHA can benefit our little bundle of joy, but now there is more good news! Researchers have found DHA may help women who suffer from postpartum depression.
Several studies summarized at the 223rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society suggest that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA supplements) given to nursing mothers may improve early infant development AND may also reduce the incidence of postpartum depression.
"We believe that the high incidence of postpartum depression in the United States may be triggered by a low dietary intake of DHA," presenter David J. Kyle, PhD, from the Mother and Child Foundation and Advanced BioNutrition Corp in Columbia, Maryland, said in a news release. "The higher the intake of DHA, the lower the incidence of depression."
A 1998 study by Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health found a significant inverse correlation between DHA intake and incidence of clinical depression, and a more recent study by Hibbeln found the same relationship between DHA levels in breast milk and incidence of postpartum depression. During pregnancy, the placenta pumps DHA from the expectant mother to the fetus, increasing the mother's susceptibility to depression.
Women who want to increase their DHA levels should take dietary supplements or eat more foods rich in DHA. To avoid mercury contamination, however, current guidelines suggest limiting fish to 12 ounces of cooked fish per week during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and avoiding shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
In an article by Dr. Andrew Weil published in this months Fit Pregnancy magazine, Weil states, "Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for proper brain and eye development in your baby and may help prevent postpartum depression. Cold-water, oily fish are the best natural sources, but some species contain high levels of mercury. I recommend sticking to the wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring and black cod. Another option is to take a purified fish oil supplement daily that provides both EPA and DHA."
Find our more about DHA supplements.
Reference: AGFD 28 Non-technical Summary Division: Division of Agricultural & Food Chemistry
Title: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): a new functional food ingredient for maternal nutrition. Presenting Author: David J. Kyle from Mother and Child Foundation.